When Distinction Disguises Discrimination: A Look at Female and Non-White CEO Performance

Document Type



Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings includes abstracts of all papers and symposia presented at the annual conference, plus 6-page abridged versions of the “Best Papers” accepted for inclusion in the program (approximately 10%). Papers published in the Proceedings are abridged because presenting papers at their full length could preclude subsequent journal publication. Please contact the author(s) directly for the full papers.


women CEO; CEO of color; performance; discrimination; entry barriers

Identifier Data

https://doi.org/10.5465/AMPROC.2023.134bp PDF/EPUB


Academy of Management

Rights Management



Extant research presents superior performance of women CEOs as evidence in support of differences between the genders. We argue that this body of research suffers from joint hypothesis problem. Although it is possible that female executives are superior, another possibility could be that discriminatory practices impose higher entry barriers allowing for only above-average female executives to occupy these positions. We find that stratified by gender and ethnicity, the female CEO of color emerges as best performer, followed by white female CEOs and men CEOs of color. The white male CEO is among the worst performers. The woman of color faces the highest barriers as she is subject to both gender and ethnic discrimination. Thus, those from this group who do manage to make it to top are among the best performers.